Category Archives: Video Games

Top five reasons you should play Harvest Moon over Farmville

Let’s get farming! *don’t own the pics

I realized that I haven’t bored anyone to death with a video game update in quite some time, even though I just completed Final Fantasy XIII-2  (it was a mind trip) and I’ve been gearing up for the next beta weekend of Guild Wars 2 (yah!), so to remedy that here is this. Feel free to throw tomatoes in the comments. Also, I have had people try to tell me that they don’t think that Farmville is a video game, but since video games are generally any game that involves being displayed and input into using an electronic device, I say you are in denial.  🙂

Harvest Moon is a very fun little game that’s been produced in Japan since the mid-1990s. Like Farmville, it is a simulation farming game, with many different titles that have been released for various gaming platforms. I have always played the releases for Nintendo’s hand-held devices, the Gameboy and the DS, but titles are also made for Playstation 2, PSP, Wii and maybe other things. They also make a similar game called Rune Factory, which still has the farming aspect and introduces monster hunting, as well.

Anyway, on with my list!

1) Harvest Moon won’t clog your notifications or update feed. Your friends cannot leave a million updates about how you need to help them out, nor do you run the risk of being “that friend.” However, you can still have the fun of interacting with other people, with the ability to cut that off when you need to. The game I’m currently playing, A Tale of Two Towns, has a collective farming plot where you can invite people to farm with you by connecting your DS to the internet and exchanging friend codes.

2) The game you buy is the game you get, and you only have to buy it once. One of the things that I disliked about playing Farmville is that even though it is a free game, all of the fun useful stuff has to be bought. Not only that, but usually it’s a finite item and has to eventually be bought again. And if you don’t want to buy it, generally you have to pester your friends to click on your posts to help you get it. While Harvest Moon is a more expensive game up front and you need a console to play it, you get the whole game, no tricks. This is simply a difference in the way the companies look to gain profit- Zynga needs to make money off their products to stay in business, but I find the game is less fun when you’re expected to keep buying things for it.

3) There are other activities besides farming. Farmville has introduced the market aspect, and of course there are animals to care for and collectibles to collect, but mostly you chill out on the same plot of land that can only get bigger if you buy it or collect enough friends. If you want to do other things, you have to play a different game. Harvest Moon offers more to do: fishing, bug-catching, exploring, falling in love, having kids, expanding your house, building friendships with villagers, contests, etc. Like, I said, it costs more to buy in the beginning, but I’ve never felt like I wasn’t getting my money’s worth. You can also have two different saved games in most newer releases, so you can be trying out two different paths at the same time, as well.

4) Courting, marriage and kids! And semblance of plot! Something that I have a lot of fun with is the bachelor/bachelorette courting: in most recent HM games, you have the option to pick someone you like, meet some friendship requirements, and then get married and have a baby! It’s fun! Plus, most Harvest Moon games have ultimate objectives that you have to meet (free all the harvest sprites, mend the relationship between two towns, make the bazaar the very best in the world, save the city, etc.) that give you something to work toward. It puts a little more life in the thing, and it’s different in each game.

5) You can shut the game off and go do other things. Your plants won’t die. Yes, this is important. No need to wake at 2 am to water your whatevers so they don’t shrivel up and die. (Or was that just me?) When you shut the game off, it doesn’t keep running, so there’s no need for you to plan on being near a computer in 4 hours because your raspberries will be done. This comes in real handy if you really want to do well in a game but don’t want to sacrifice your personal life, meals, or sleep. But if you do, at least it’s entirely your fault. 🙂 Time does not pass in game unless you’re playing, which actually might allow for an even more casual experience than Farmville.

And I made this list without evening mentioning the llamas! They are the cutest, better than a Farmville Valentine’s Day sheep any time. Anyway, I thought this might be fun to share, since so many people like Farmville but have never heard of this nice little game that’s been doing it for over a decade. If you want to know more, obviously Wikipedia is a good start, but I also recommend checking out this neat help site called Ushi No Tane (fogu.com/hm). They have all kinds of info for pretty much each HM and Rune Factory game out there, as well as a great online community if you want to chat with others about the game or share friend codes for co-op farming.

What are some of your secret video game obsessions? Or do you not play them at all? Let me know in the comments, and happy gaming!

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Fable 3

Ah, I figured it was about time to introduce you to my second love, and that is video games. Lots of people think that video games and literature can’t coexist peacefully in one brain, but it’s not true.  A good video game can make you think and get you attached just like a good story. Fable 3 came out awhile back, but I just got it for Christmas, and had an entire week to veg out on the couch between college graduation and starting a new job. Suffice to say, I beat the storyline tonight (day 4, I think) and so obviously it’s on my brain.

I’ve only played Fable 2 before this, so that’s the only prequel I have to compare it to. Basically Fable 3 has just as good as a story plot, possibly an even more complicated one. You start off as either a prince or princess (you get to pick), the younger sibling to a tyrant ruler of the land called Albion, which is the land that the Fable games take place in. Just as a fun fact, “Albion” is also an old name for England (in case you were wondering why everyone in the game has English accents). This particular installment has Albion at the height of its industrial age, and many of the same issues plague it as plagued England in the nineteenth century, namely child labor, poor working conditions, class disparity, etc.

The first part of the story has you gathering allies for a rebellion against your brother, followed by a revolution which puts you as ruler. After that is a really interesting addition where you must fight off an impending darkness that comes from the land across the sea, Aurora. These creatures really reminded me of the heartless, from Kingdom Hearts. “Shadelight” is the creepiest map in the game, and I am so glad that they didn’t give you any reason to have to go back in there.

I’m a really avid strategy guide user, so I’m not going to be a good judge of how difficult it is to figure things out on your own. Taking hours to find where I’m supposed to go or missing out on really cool items just because I never thought to look in one obscure location never really was what I considered fun, so I just avoid it. The golden guiding light is very helpful in this respect for people who don’t like strategy guides, but as in Fable 2, it can be a bit glitchy sometimes. Occasionally you have to wait for it to catch up to you or reroute where you’re going, and on rare occasions it leads you through a path that you can’t actually go (as in, tells you to jump a cliff you can’t). The “collection” quests are also more plentiful in Fable 3, and so far I have not found this tedious. The gnomes are an absolute riot (so much better than gargoyles), and the books can be pretty funny as well.

I’ve heard complaints from other people that the fact that you need so much money to truly play the game to its extent is too challenging. I believe you need somewhere around 8 million gold to make all the “moral” decisions as king/queen, and yes, if you can’t get a hang of the realty business, playing the lute or making pies for hours and hours sounds horrific. That said, if you are using the realty aspect correctly, and if you are giving yourself enough time at each stage of the game, raising 8 million is a cake walk. If you are too hasty to continue the story plot to raise money before you leave for Aurora, you will be hurting as ruler. Before I left for Aurora I was racking up about 60,000 gold every five minutes, putting me at about 7 million gold before I came back to Albion. The key is that you have to start buying real estate the moment you are able to, even if it means spending a little time playing the lute. Start with the places in the Dweller’s camp and Brightwall, then you can begin buying up big businesses like the pubs and shops in more expensive places like Bowerstone. Take the time to do all the quests available before you move into each section of the storyline, and don’t be afraid to take time to do demon doors and get married. This will give time for your wealth to accumulate, and then your time as ruler won’t be such a damn headache.

I was worried that having to keep your rental places in good repair was going to be impossibly tedious. It’s a new feature to Fable, but since they also added that handy dandy world map in the Sanctuary, it’s not so bad.

Ah, to the Sanctuary! It’s a cool idea to have all your inventory laid out for you in rooms that you can walk into (it feels more realistic somehow). That said, I can’t say I prefer it over the menu-style inventory. I don’t dislike it, but I’m just not sure that it personally affected my game play either way, though. Still, it’s pretty innovative.

Another thing that I found out the hard way, and that I BELIEVE is different from Fable 2 (correct me if I’m wrong) is that creatures will attack people, and these people will die and actually never come back. I married Elliot and set us up in a nice place in Millfield, then one day there were balverines in the neighborhood (they weren’t there before!) and I guess they attacked him and killed him. The game informed me that he was dead and that our kid was sent to the orphanage, where I had to go reclaim him. So, I am now down the only guy who was actually worth marrying in the entire game. I DO NOT LIKE THIS ASPECT OF THE GAME. WHAT IS THE POINT OF PAYING TO LIVE IN MILLFIELD IF YOU ARE GOING TO GET EATEN BY BALVERINES?

Anyway…to finish off, I guess I should comment on the ending to the story. I guess I shouldn’t spoil it, but seriously, very sad. Good, but sad. Sad like when at the end of Fable 2 you pick to have all your loved ones come back to life and all you get is your dog (your sister apparently being too difficult to program back into the game). It would be cool if you could still interact with the main characters after the storyline was over. Would it kill them to make Ben Finn and Page marriageable characters? I also wonder, if this game takes place in the Industrial Revolution-type period, what will Fable 4 be about? (Please please please let there be a Fable 4!)

But, having finished the storyline, I still have some serious questing to do, and that’s what makes this game awesome.

Wish me luck.

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